IHBC 2018 Yearbook

U S E F U L I N F O R M A T I O N 87 HERITAGE PROTECTION IN IRELAND MONA O’ROURKE THERE ARE two main strands of legislation affecting heritage assets in Ireland, the National Monuments Act, 1930–2004, a broad piece of legislation dealing with the protection of historic monuments and archaeological areas, and the Planning and Development Acts, 2000–2017, in which measures affecting historic structures form an integral part of a broader framework for local authority planning. There is a constant balancing of the need to protect cultural heritage with the rights and freedoms of the individual, guaranteed by the state under the Irish Constitution. International conventions and charters influence the form legislation may take, but the provisions of the constitution take precedence over acts of parliament. The constitution guarantees freedom to religious denominations to manage their own affairs and to own and administer property, and in this regard the National Monuments Act excludes churches in ecclesiastical use. There are also special provisions in planning law in relation to development to churches which impose an obligation on planning authorities to respect liturgical requirements and to consult appropriately when making declarations or assessing planning applications affecting interiors. The primary legislation for the conservation of built heritage in Ireland is the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 2000 (as amended), which consolidated the Planning and Development Acts, 1963–1999. The 1999 act introduced significant change regarding heritage protection by giving effect to the Granada Convention of 1985, ratified by Ireland in 1997. A further piece of legislation enacted at that time, the Architectural Heritage (National Inventory) and Historic Monuments (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1999, established the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) on a statutory basis. The NIAH surveys provide the basis for the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG) to make recommendations to planning authorities concerning designation for protection. The Planning Act, 2000 (as amended) requires each planning authority to include a record of protected structures (RPS) in its development plan. In the context of development in relation to any protected or proposed protected structure under this legislation, the definition of works includes ‘any act or operation involving the application or removal of plaster, paint, wallpaper, tiles or other material to or from the surfaces of the interior or exterior of a structure’. If a structure is included in the RPS, a planning authority (or An Bord Pleanála, the national planning appeals board) must provide an owner or occupier with a declaration clarifying the kind of works that would or would not materially affect the character of the structure. Planning authorities are obliged to have regard to any guidelines issued under the act and also to any ministerial recommendations made in relation to specific structures. The minister is obliged to issue guidelines to planning authorities concerning development objectives for protecting structures, and for Georgian town houses in Merrion Square, Dublin, protected through inclusion in the Record of Protected Structures (Photo: iStock.com/lleerogers)